How many drive-thru chains can you think of that serve Reubens? Not many, which is why clicking on this list probably has your tummy going pitter-patter at the notion that our fast food overlords slings 'em on the cheap. But because the deli staple features a far more complex profile, you might have wondered how different franchises compare to each other. Let's face the facts: Calling Reubens an "acquired taste" isn't off base. Either you love the sharp, acidic slew of corned beef — or pastrami — nestled between crunchy rye and toppings like sauerkraut and Thousand Island or you hate it. And, wouldn't you like to know the places nailing that meaty, mouthwatering combination?
With the caveat that we're not expecting Katz's level of authenticity, we strove for baseline markers of the classic sandwich alongside the overall value — that would be the toasted (preferably marbled rye) bread and the load of salty, savory garnishes. Just as well, conducting a ranking of worst to best Reubens also required a proper sampling of fast food chains. Scouring the bottom of the budgetary spectrum (hiya, Arby's!) up to the quick-service spots like Culver's and McAllister's provided an appropriate sampling since the price points and qualities vary. Let's dig into our findings, shall we?
When assessing the scene for a Reuben on the run, you might have luck at build-your-own sub shops like Togo's. Yet, the Pastrami Reuben is sadly butchered by poor ingredients. The most obvious issue on our hands is without a doubt the stale bread. It's not even rye bread at that, but unremarkable deli hoagies. While hoagies themselves aren't the deal-breaker, you're sadly just not getting a very fresh sandwich to satisfy your cravings. While the pastrami "did have flavor" according to one Yelp review, the unpleasant texture (including "tough, stringy bits") got in the way of enjoyment. Proffering ¼ pound of deli meat just isn't the draw Togo's thinks it is when the quality, arguably, sleeps at the wheel.
Whether it's the funk of the sauerkraut or the relish-y zing of Thousand Island, a good mouthful can conduct a jaunty tango on the palate. But, it's not the bold pick-me-up you'll wanna wolf down in spite of yourself. Togo's to some extent slaps on the right pieces to the sandwich puzzle, but the zest doesn't curl our tongues or blast our tastebuds wide open. Shame on Togo's for leaving us no choice but to grill it for its imperfections.
The Reuben out of Which Wich, a Texan franchise with close to 230 shops in its name, paints an accurate portrait of the East Coast delicacy. There's sliced rye, corned beef, and the pickle-y pungency that comes through from the Thousand Island spread, but is that enough to catapult it to the top? Not so. Looking at this sandwich, we'd believe you if you told us this came out of a bodega on the Lower East Side — the appearance is uncannily authentic. But, we're not grading this sammie on looks; we're grading it on lip-smacking delectability on a dime. Suffice it to say, reviewers aren't having it. "Complete waste of a $17 sandwich," slammed a commenter on Yelp.
Peep THIS Out, a food review channel on Youtube, sadly couldn't detect much of the creaminess of the melted Swiss cheese. They also argued that the sandwich could have more "stuff" on the inside in order to justify the price, which isn't as much of a bargain compared to the drive-thrus primed to give bang for your buck every time. A customer on Tripadvisor, for example, was barely able to taste one of the sandwich's most iconic toppings: the sauerkraut. "What is a Reuben without sauerkraut?" they asked. This was a rhetorical question, so we know they weren't expecting an answer. But, if we were going to respond? We'd tell 'em it's not worth it, hunger pangs be darned.
McAlister's Deli could have netted a higher grade. We say "could," because some aspects of the sandwich work, most notably the pleats of lean and flavorful corned beef that make for a satisfying experience. That being said, claiming some advantage over the hand-held disappointments we've recently covered doesn't absolve its faults. In the eye of Reuben connoisseurs, toasted rye is non-negotiable for the tried-and-true grilled delicacy. On the other hand, these slices arrive steamed and squishy, which paves the way for a mess as the moisture culled from the toppings bleeds straight through the bread.
Clammy meat is bad news for any grilled hand-held, but other customers have been left unimpressed by the cheap-tasting, rubbery beef. Its other sins aren't much better. The sauerkraut, normally dashed in a pickle-y pile, verges on the invisible, while the thinnest coating of Swiss leaves our cheese-addicted tastebuds high and dry. While Reubens make for an unapologetically gluttonous bite from the get-go, McAllister's version is an immense gut bomb. We're talking 990 calories, which polishes off half of most people's daily allotment in an instant.
The fast-casual café has expanded to almost 550 eateries since its inception in the South, and it's clearly a hoppin' lunch spot. We wouldn't avoid coming here for something inoffensive, such as the Turkey Club or Chicken Salad, but a complex creation like the Reuben demands — and deserves — much more.
Snarf's Sandwiches in Colorado doesn't serve a Reuben in name, but the diner staple is represented on the menu with two possibilities: the Corned Beef & Swiss, as well as the Pastrami & Swiss, whose protein bears a fattier mouthfeel than the latter. In true, sub-shop fashion you'll get your pick of bread, but perhaps customizing the vessel is when the regional franchise tumbles. "How on Earth can a sandwich store offer a Reuben, Pastrami, or Corned Beef sandwich without rye bread?" wrote one Yelp reviewer in disbelief. "That's all wrong." Speaking of the bread, there's too much of it. The hoagie is absolutely dense and much too crusty, and per another patron, the sour punch vanishes behind a bland, bulky starch.
Even giving airtime to inflation, does Snarf's version rise up to the ranks in terms of easily obtainable chain Reubens? While being more expensive would normally conjure discussion on quality, we're not sure it's beefy enough to beat our heavyweights further down the list. Truth be told, many places bring the tongue-tingling works without forcing you to go over your eating-out budget. That's enough for us to wait out the better options at the top.
Penn Station East Coast Subs
Building tangy monuments to meat without its signature foundation of marbled rye? Penn Station East Coast Subs is guilty as charged. As we inch closer to the top of the mountaintop, the Cincinnati-based shop makes its case as a solid middle contender. Although missing the nutty undertone turns this into a different beast, it embraces the sandwich's top-heavy feel nonetheless. The "slow-roasted" corned beef is generously stacked, and the Swiss cheese forms a mouthwatering blanket with a ripe flow of sauerkraut and tangy dressing. Sandwiches are grilled by default, of course, but they can also be enjoyed un-toasted or as a salad tucked into a wrap.
Certainly, individual reviews can count in a major way — a fan on Tripadvisor called it "one of the best Reubens I have had in a really long time!" after all. Sometimes, we'd argue, hard data is necessary to determine the good, mediocre, and just plain awful sandwiches on the market, and then you'll have it made in the shade. We've polled people before on their gush-worthy Penn Station Subs and in that round-up, the Reuben fell right into third. Though that's a solid spot to be, it's not the peak tier that would pull the competition in its favor. Having explored the ample possibilities at our disposal, we'd say Penn Station's is a fine card to have in your hand when the craving arises, but it's not the only offering by any means.
This is the first Reuben you expected right off the bat, isn't it? Arby's takes the cake for pure footprint and affordability, but the carnivore-friendly joint proves you should never judge a book by its cover. The Corned Beef Reuben made its meaty debut in 2005, and if you talk to foodies who've tried one, many will claim surprise that a fast food version could taste un-ironically gourmet. On r/Sandwiches, Reddit posters reacted to a commenter's Arby's Reuben with a shocking amount of positivity. "Wow I'm kind of impressed," one person wrote, while another chimed in "That's a good looking Reuben!" Less enthusiastic responders even had to admit that "it's actually pretty decent...for Arby's."
Although the sloppy application of the meat does make for an awkward chomp, the Arby's version has plentiful strengths. The nutty rye, though less crunchy, is aromatic, which is a fine complement to the thick stack of carved beef and garnishes. The sauerkraut is thoughtfully topped, and the Thousand Island doesn't go unappreciated.
One thing that's a little misleading is its "Market Fresh" label, a section of the chain's menu referring to refers to cold deli entrees you don't tend to see making the rounds at drive-thru chains. A single Reuben sandwich packs 680 calories, which is sort of heavy. But when you want to pig out on the meats, Arby's will be bringing 'em in spades. You just can't beat the bargain.
The Sandwich Spot
Then, there's The Sandwich Shop, whose Reubens are named differently depending on the 30-odd establishments dotting the West Coast. Regardless of whether your order is called "The Klaus," say, or "The Rockin' Reuben," the sandwich typically boasts the same amalgamation of fixings — thinly-carved pastrami, crispy sauerkraut, crunchy rye with pronounced marbling, and the creamy Thousand Island spread.
For many the sandwich could be a bit bigger. If you've been spoiled by legit Jewish delis who really pile on the fixings, the slimmer size is a bit of a let-down, since The Sandwich Spot's not exactly cheap. The garnishes were also found to be overly salty. Briny, pickled kraut will inevitably curl our gums inwards, but that's less because it's zesty and more that the vegetables, as one reviewer attests, tasted stale.
Considering this Reuben had plenty of reasons to succeed (look no further than the scratch-made bread), landing on the lower end of the ranking leaves a void in our stomach. It's not as bad as Togo's or Which Wich since the ingredients stick to that genuine greasy spoon spirit that makes this sandwich an all-timer. But, the errors we listed above just aren't cut for the prime time.
Mr. Pickle's Sandwich Shop
This might be your first time hearing of Mr. Pickle's Sandwich Shop. Originating from California, the mini-chain has largely followed a slow-and-steady approach when broadening its business; Arizona is the only other state where you'll find it. So, what's there to know about this regional gem? The Reubens are solid deli fare. The only issue (or issues) that arise? The sandwich is increasingly more expensive and lacks the brick-and-mortar presence we pride other fast-casual contenders with where it's not necessary to sink an entire afternoon driving to a location.
These factors definitely affect where Mr. Pickle's falls on our list, but they don't really tell us anything about how the sandwich stacks up to its competitors. Our verdict shows that it's above average for a fast-food find. You'll be greeted with the full rundown of sandwich greatness. The sliced rye is grilled right and just hefty enough to cradle all of the meats and sauces without the ingredients purging from the edges of the crust. An additional feather in its cap is the hearty proportions, since unlike Which Wich and The Sandwich Spot, the probability of stuffing yourself is actually taken to heart. Our only wish is that eating one could be easier. This becomes evident as we venture towards the upper-crust Reubens on our roster, which include an absolute wild card.
"Who would have expected an excellent Reuben at a burger place?" This Tripadvisor review gets to the crux of our second-place pick, Culver's. We'll admit that the market for these meaty sammies has never been jam-packed in the drive-thru lane, but regardless, the Dairyland icon couldn't be more deserving of the Silver Medal. Big Apple transplants who pine for their favorite family delicatessens a la Eisenberg's or Katz's are sure to adore the Grilled Reuben Melt. It's a shining star that radiates over its compatriots, just short of our leading choice in the ranking of fast food Reubens.
For the Midwestern joint to call it a "melt" was a wise choice; the taste is buttery, crunchy, and just tangy enough to zip across the palate without overstepping the punch. The corned beef is "hand-trimmed" to a succulent tenderness, while the (Wisconsin-made) Swiss is the sort of upgrade our tummies yearn for. Due to the elevated ingredients Culver's famously uses, it's no wonder that many food items — including, of course, the Reuben — garner loads of fawning, flattering comparisons. "I would say this sandwich stands up to most delis or restaurants," a happy patron raved on Tripadvisor, and they're far from the minority.
The consensus is clear, folks: A franchise based out of Texas serves up the best Reuben sandwich your dollars can buy. Devotees who've struggled to find anything resembling deli perfection at a drive-thru can rest easy because this menu superstar from Jason's Deli is the one. Get ready to unclench your jaw, since this isn't just any Reuben — this is Reuben THE Great, thank you very much. The chain doesn't scrimp on the meats or the tongue-tingling nirvana unleashed by the pungently sublime trio of sauerkraut, sauce, and Swiss. Did you ever believe you'd see anything close to what world-class delis have been carving in a corporate chain? We're still pinching ourselves.
Heaping on a half-pound of delightfully salty pastrami (or corned beef, as Jason's lets you choose) emphasizes the heartiness bolstered within the buttered-to-excellence marbled rye. More impressively, the monstrous delicacy pays tribute to the sorts thought to be exclusive to the mom-and-pop delicatessens.This is a mess on your hands, so to speak, but who can pass one up in all of its gluttonous, carnivore-happy decadence? Even though Arby's is more reliable on accessibility, Jason's Deli stands strong in over half of America — close to 30 states, to be precise — giving it the edge to stake its claim. Ladies and gents, the number-one Reuben.
Read the original article on Mashed.